Introducing: Sozai Cooking School

One of my missions on this blog is to try out Japanese recipes, with the hope of proving to myself and to you that cooking Japanese food is not difficult, and can be really fun. I’ve had a lot of success so far, and am starting to get more creative with my dishes now. Japanese food has become so popular here in the UK, and I think people are starting to want to experiment in the kitchen a bit more. Many basic Japanese ingredients (such as sushi rice, wasabi and soy sauce) are available in ordinary supermarkets, and I sometimes hear of sushi making courses being run.

Now there’s a place for all you budding chefs out there to have a go at Japanese cooking, under the watchful eye of an expert – Sozai Cooking School.

Sozai, meaning both ‘household dishes’ and ‘ingredients’, is billed as the first Japanese cookery school in the UK, and I had the pleasure of attending one of their opening nights to find out what it is all about…

Sozai Cooking School - opening evening

Sozai Cooking School, 5 Middlesex Street, London E1 7AA

Sozai Cooking School is just a short walk from Liverpool Street Station (or an even shorter walk from Aldgate and Aldgate East), and classes are also held at SO Restaurant in Soho. The school is the brainchild of Tetsuro Hama of SO Restaurant and Akitoshi Handa of ASTA, a popular lunch place in the City. Handa was also part of the start-up team for Wagamama, designing their concept.

Tetsuro Hama of SO Restaurant

Tetsuro Hama of SO Restaurant – looking ready to launch into a bit of karaoke!

The evening was well attended, and I found myself looking around the crowded room thinking “who are all these people?”. I had expected to see a number of familiar faces, but actually only ran into one fellow blogger, the lovely Fran Pickering of Sequins and Cherry Blossoms. It was great, though, that there were so many people there – people who were obviously interested in Japanese food and cooking. In fact, people were so keen that there was a bit of a scrum when it was announced that a handful of people could have a go!

But before the cooking came the entertainment, and we were treated to a wonderful performance by none other than folk singer Akari Mochizuki and Tsugaru shamisen player Hibiki Ichikawa. I’ve seen the pair perform so many times now, but I’m never disappointed.

Akari Mochizuki & Hibiki Ichikawa

Akari Mochizuki & Hibiki Ichikawa – music in the kichen

Hibiki Ichikawa

Hibiki Ichikawa

Akari Mochizuki

Akari Mochizuki

Now to the food…


Yuki’s Tobiko Maki Rolls

There were two demonstration sushi-making classes, both run by Yuki Gomi. Yuki is a Japanese chef and cookery writer, with her first book, Sushi at Home, being published by Penguin this June (I’ll certainly be looking out for that one!). Like me, Yuki hopes to show people that making sushi is easy, and something that everyone can do in their own homes.

Sozai Cooking School - opening evening

Yuki Gomi

Sozai Cooking School - opening evening

Sozai Cooking School - opening evening

Sozai Cooking School - opening evening


Yuki’s California Rolls

After showing the keen audience how to roll (first California Rolls, then later Tobiko Maki Rolls), the lucky few who had reached the tables fast enough had a go.

Sozai Cooking School - opening evening

Time to cook…

Sozai Cooking School - opening evening

Almost ready to roll…

Each participant presented Yuki with their sushi roll so she could cut it (cutting sushi is one of the hardest parts!), and everyone looked very pleased with their efforts.

Sozai Cooking School - opening evening

This one makes the cut…

Nick - who kindly let me try his sushi, even though we'd never met before!

Nick – who kindly let me try his sushi, even though we’d never met before!

The school will run classes by a number of instructors, including Akemi Yokoyama, Atsuko Ikeda, Kaoru Yamamoto (Head Chef at SO Restaurant), Tomokazu Matsuya (Head Sushi Chef at So Restaurant), and Yuki Gomi. They will also sometimes have classes taught by special guests chefs, including Anton Edelmann, Daisuke Hayashi of Chrysan, Machiko Chiba (inventor of Cook-Zen), Mari Fujii (co-founder of Zenmikai, a school specialising in the instruction of shojin ryori), and Nuno Mendes. I’m particularly excited to see Mari Fujii’s name on the list as she is a specialist in shojin ryori (vegan Buddhist cuisine), and I would love to learn from her, having met her once at the Japanese Embassy.

Chefs: Akemi Yokoyama & Yuki Gomi

Chefs: Akemi Yokoyama & Yuki Gomi

As well as sushi making classes, there will be all sorts of other classes available at Sozai, including Japas (Japanese style tapas), vegetarian classes, and chances to make kaiseki (traditional multi-course dinners) and street food such as ramen and okonomiyaki. The school’s website also has a ‘suggestion box’ area, where you can suggest a dish. If the dish receives enough votes, it could become the subject of a new class. Find out more about the classes here.

So what are you waiting for? Click here for some discount code information, and get booking your class with a Japanese master chef Visit now!

Soxai Cooking School logo

Sozai Cooking School:

16 thoughts on “Introducing: Sozai Cooking School

  1. Darn, they have got a quite nice offering of cooking classes. Mari Fujii sounds very interesting (hadn’t hear of her before), but it seems they will be offering several veg classes by the regular instructors as well. The creative sushi one sounds good – even appealing to me as a quite experienced cook (the regular veg Japanese cooking is all things I’d easily teach myself to make).

    The only problem is that something like this isn’t really in my student budget, discount or not! :-(

  2. Hi! again Mari from Japan.Sorry not Fujii-san,but my name means`truth`,so I love my name. Well,sushi is now world-wide-known japanese food and we make sushi at home very often.Soon, we will have hina-matsuri,3rd March, I will make chirasi-zusi for my daughters. Chirasi-zusi is not rolled sushi,but mixed sushi decolated denbu and tamago-yaki.It is very easy and really beautiful and I feel spring with pink denbu and yello egg! Please try chirashi-zusi on hina-matsuri in Londonp(*^-^*)q

    • Hi Mariさん, thank you for your message. Yes, of course, Hina Matsuri will come soon! I miss celebrating Japanese festivals. Chirashi-zushi is delicious, and easier to make than regular sushi. I should make some soon! Thank you! (*^_^)v

  3. Hello, I’m japanese live in Tokyo. I saw you on TV tonight. Fortunetely I have ever been UK many times and I do love UK as you love Japan. So it’s very happy for me that you english woman likes Japan our country ^-^ Thank you!

  4. はじめまして、aliさん:-)



  5. Hi! I have seen you on the TV programm and so surprised you cooked Okonomiyaki since I have never heard the foreiner cooked Okonomiyaki at home. And I am so glad to hear you like Japan. So I found your blog and send messege.

    I am really happy to visit your blog since I can see London through your blog. (I had been stayed about 1 year in London begore.)


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